How to Tie a Kelvin Knot

How to Tie a Kelvin Knot

Tie Knots

The boys are growing up. They are exchanging their worn-out sneakers for leather shoes, baseball caps for a cleaner haircuts and stained tees for proper shirts and ties. More often than not, their current selection of ties is carried on from the 90’s— probably the surviving batch of tie gifts from relatives.

Unfortunately, these thick fabric ties with dominant geometric patterns will not always work with the common basic tie knots they know. A tie made of thick fabric can look incredibly overpowering with a Windsor knot, not to mention too obvious with those geometric patterns. A thin tie with a Four in Hand, on the other hand, can look like the tie is trying to strangle the wearer. The poorly thought-of necktie and the wrong knot can convey the wrong message.

Luckily, men these days are proactive about their ties and aims to add more variety in their wardrobe. Skinny ties are the latest trend, but they can be tricky because they can easily cross between looking loosely tied and looking like a choker. This is when knowing how to tie a Kelvin knot comes in handy.

How to Tie a Kelvin Knot


To those unfamiliar with it, the Kelvin Knot is named after the British mathematical physicist William Thomson, famously known as Lord Kelvin. He did not create the Kelvin Necktie Knot per se, but it was attributed to him in honor of his Knot Theory contribution in atomic structure. Despite a mathematical background, the kelvin knot is actually easy to do. Just like The Simple knot, it starts out with the seam facing outwards and ending in a tidy, fuller looking Four in Hand knot.

It is suitable for skinnier ties, specifically 2.5-inch ties, whether they are made of cotton or wool. The Kelvin knot incorporates a half loop that adds fullness to the knot without compromising the overall well-kept look of a Four in Hand knot. It also gives more symmetry than the latter and removes the need of using the common and overpowering Windsor knot that men often resort to.

Since the Kelvin knot starts out with the seam side upwards, it matches with the wrong side of the collar and hides the seams perfectly. The same goes for the narrow blade—the wrong side is elegantly covered by the wrong side of the wide blade, making the over-all look flawless. The final knot is slightly asymmetrical which makes this knot perfect for semi-formal events or simply in occasions when one wants to look professional but at the same time give a hint of comfort and laid-back appeal to the ensemble.

To better understand and follow the steps on how to tie a Kelvin knot, it is important to remember the significant areas of the tie such as the:

  • Wide blade – This is the thick end of the tie that usually has the label of the manufacturer on the wrong side.
  • Narrow blade – This is the thin end of the tie that is pulled on to move the knot up. It usually has the washing instructions tag at the end.
  • Trunk of Wide blade or Narrow blade – It is the area of the blades that will be handled to create the knot.

In this procedure, the tie wearer is assumed to be right-handed. Before starting, make sure the shirt is buttoned down and the collar is turned up.

Step 1: Place the tie with the wrong side up. Make sure that the wide blade is longer than the narrow blade by at most 10 inches. This will provide room to pull down the narrow blade without going past the wide end. Remember that the wide end must always be longer.

Step 2: Move the trunk of the wide blade under the trunk of the narrow blade then go around the narrow blade to make one loop. At this point, the wide blade should have already gone around the narrow blade with the wide blade resting on the right side.

Step 3: Take the trunk of the wide blade and go over the trunk of the narrow blade to the left. This is the half loop. Do not to tighten this half loop yet because the wide blade will go through this later.

Step 4: Take the trunk of the wide blade and go under the left branch (on the left collar). It should come out on top of the main knot.

Step 5: Hold the end of the wide blade and go under the loose half loop. Pull it down gently which should tighten the now formed Kelvin knot.

Step 6: Make sure the knot is at the center of the collar by pulling the narrow blade down. Check to see of the wide blade is still longer than the narrow blade otherwise it will look odd.

That completes the Kelvin knot. Iron out the look by checking to see if the tie flows out of the knot smoothly instead of looking like it is constrained. Turn down the collar and it should be all set. The Kelvin knot has a few variations namely the Cross Kelvin, the plain Diagonal knot and the wide Diagonal knot. The last two knots are more striking and slightly unusual but they give the wearer an air of art and a sense of fun and humor. It’s nice to keep these knots handy just in case one needs to give everyday monotony a twist.

Cross Kelvin can be achieved by simply going through both loops instead of just the half loop. The result will be an elegant layered knot that can be adjusted to make it look symmetrical, just like the Christensen knot. The wide Diagonal knot is done by reversing the Cross Kelvin. It means taking off the whole tie without undoing the knot, reversing it and wearing it again. The knot will be distinguishable because of the wide blade plastered on the side. The plain Diagonal knot, on the other hand, is more drastic. Instead of using the wide blade to form the knot, the narrow blade will be used. Once the knot is formed, reverse it just like in the wide Diagonal knot. The overall Diagonal knot should have the narrow blade plastered on the side unlike the wide Diagonal knot.

The Kelvin knot is a fun and sophisticated way to wear a tie which will definitely set anybody above the boring crowd. It conveys the message of being professional without losing one’s casual side. Thus, it pays to know how to tie a Kelvin knot.

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